Have you ever wondered who drew the battle sketches so often seen in books and newspapers from the Civil War? Many of the Civil War artists were correspondents who traveled with the armies during the Civil War. Some of the more well-known correspondents were the combat artists, known as the “specials,” including such names as Alfred R. Waud and his brother William Waud, Winslow Homer, Thomas Nast, Frank Vizetelly, Alexander Simplot, and Edwin Forbes. The sketches of these brave men, often drawn quickly while under fire, provided the best firsthand visual accounts of the sights and sounds of battle and camp life in both armies. The “specials” were usually paid by the sketch, until they established a name for themselves, after which they were given a regular salary and field allowance (Winslow Homer was eventually paid $60 a page for his sketches).
The artists would send their sketches back to their respective publishers, either in person or by courier, where they were redone into etchings and published for the enjoyment and enlightenment of the readers. After the war, many of these artists continued their work to become household names, recording subsequent key events in American history for posterity.
William Waud, trained as an architect in England, was an assistant to Sir Joseph Paxton and worked on the design of the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition in 1851. Soon afterward he joined his brother, Alfred Waud in America. William was first employed with "Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper." While working as a "Special Artist" for Leslie’s, William covered art correspondent assignments in the South, including the inauguration of Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederacy and the bombardment of Fort Sumter. In 1864 Waud joined the staff of Harper's Weekly and worked along with his brother Alfred (also with Harper's) during the Petersburg Campaign. He covered Sherman’s March in the south and Lincoln’s funeral after the war.
In today’s world, where wars can be watched live on television, or photos can be taken and seen instantly by digital cameras (and transmitted by e-mail), we have to admire those brave correspondents during the Civil War who tried to keep from getting killed during the battle and then sketched battle scenes of the battles after the battle was over and then took many days to get their sketches to their publishers. Quite a chore in the days of old, but not such a chore with today’s technology.
Part of the material used in this article was taken from Wikipedia and from the website http://www.bivouacbooks.com/bbv2i2s1.htm.